Giving Tuesday Yields Mixed Results for Mass. Nonprofits

December 2, 2017 — Nonprofits across Massachusetts reached out to donors, friends, and other supporters, as well as prospective donors, on Giving Tuesday to raise funds to support their organizations – with some improving on last year's efforts and others holding even or dropping back.

Nationally, an estimated $274 million was raised online during the sixth annual Giving Tuesday, held last week, a 50% increase over last year's total.

While there is no centralized tracking of funds raised by Massachusetts nonprofits, here's how some Bay State nonprofits fared:

Girls Inc. of Holyoke, which helps girls ages 5–18 achieve academic success, health, and leadership skills, in its third Giving Tuesday effort, raised $14,000 toward its $21,000 goal, the amount it raised last year. It is now extending this year's fundraiser to a longer appeal through the end of 2017.

Girls Inc. relied heavily on peer fundraisers, who created giving pages and shared their pages with their networks. It also used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Sarah Etelman, development manager, said, "This year was a challenge we didn’t totally anticipate. Giving Tuesday has clearly become a 'thing' with nonprofits in the United States and around the world. As a result, everyone with an email address or a social media account was bombarded with requests from organizations and friends."

Horizons for Homeless Children, based in Roxbury, which seeks to improve the lives of young homeless children by ensuring they have access to early education and opportunities to play, raised $42,411 from 65 donors, a big jump from last year's $5,585, the first time it participated in Giving Tuesday.

Ongoing donor cultivation, week-long social media pushes, a day-of e-solicitation, and support for its Boston Marathon team made the difference.

“We were thrilled with the results and the generosity of our donors. We know there’s a lot of noise that day with many nonprofits competing for donor attention, so we are incredibly grateful so many chose to support our mission. Giving Tuesday is a great way to encourage giving, expand our network, and spread awareness about what we do,” said Tara Spalding, the organization's chief development and marketing officer.

Tufts Health Plan Foundation, a Watertown-based grant maker that seeks to improve healthy living with an emphasis on older adults, garnered $80,000 from 165 employees in its third year with Giving Tuesday.

The foundation offered a 2-for-1 match for donations made to nonprofit organizations, which helped spur nearly 300 donations. In addition, employees filled 120 bags with soap, toothpaste and other personal and first aid supplies that were delivered to Veterans Northeast Outreach Center in Haverhill.

United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, based in Boston, raised $43,200, a slight increase over last year's results, of which $23,200 came online, matched by another $20,000 from the organization's affinity group, Women United.

Funds raised on Giving Tuesday will support the United Way Family Fund, which provides emergency assistance for families in need, helping to buy food, pay utilities, or cover a rent payment in times of an unexpected setback.

Connie French, vice president for digital engagement, said, "We were fortunate to have the support of community advocates to spread the word, such as our Women United volunteers, corporate partners, board members and other affinity groups. And we did extensive email and social media outreach."

The Usher 1F Collaborative in Newton, which funds medical research to find an effective treatment to save or restore the vision of those with Usher Syndrome type 1F, raised $35,178 through online donations and two individual contributions of $20,000 and $10,000. Last year, its first Giving Tuesday foray, it raised $24,400, which include an individual donation of $20,000.

The organization emailed its semi-annual newsletter the morning of Giving Tuesday and timed its mailed newsletter, with a return donation envelope, to arrive close to Giving Tuesday. It also sent a thank-you and reminder to current donors the evening before Giving Tuesday. Similar to last year, it also participated in the Facebook campaign with the Gates Foundation $1,000 match.

Melissa Chaikof, president of Usher 1F Collaborative, describing Giving Tuesday as "a great opportunity," said next year the organization will look to expand its effort beyond its current base of donors.

Waypoint Adventure, in Lexington, which uses experiential and adventure-based programs to transform the lives of individuals with disabilities, raised $910 from eight donors, down from last year's $2,143 from 16 donors, the first time it participated in the event.

Nancy Natowitz, Waypoint's business manager, said the organization didn't put as much effort in this year's fund drive, relying on an email list broadcast a week before and posts on its Facebook page and Instagram. In contrast, last year it started with stories and reminders in early November.

She is mulling over whether to participate next year, as Waypoint runs an annual appeal at this time of year, noting, "It might be confusing to our donors to give them these two separate opportunities to donate to us at essentially the same time."

The New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), a Boston-based, national animal advocacy organization dedicated to ending the use of animals in research, testing, and science education, in its fourth Giving Year drive surpassed its goal to raise $1,895, a figure chosen to honor the year the organization was founded.

NEAVS relied on email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to raise awareness and funds. In the weeks leading up to Giving Tuesday, it posted on Facebook responses it collected from a recent event to the statement “I want to help animals because...”

Erinn Larson, marketing and communications associate, said NEAVS is already brainstorming for next year, noting, "Fostering compassion, collaboration, and positive change in the world with other individuals, organizations, and communities, regardless of physical location, is such a heartwarming, inspiring thing."

Charles River Watershed Association, based in Weston, which works to protect, preserve, and enhance the Charles River and its watershed, which has participated in Giving Tuesday since 2014, this year raised $5,300 from 28 donors, twice as much as last year.

"We reached donors through email newsletters, Facebook, twitter and our website," said Alexandra Ash, director of communications and events. "In our email newsletters and website we provided buttons to make it easy for donors to share with their friends. This was the first time we emphasized and made easy it easy to share the email and website with others.

The Children's Room, in Arlington, which provides peer support for grieving children and families, raised $30,675 through 194 donations.

Emily Carson Dashawetz, communications and marketing coordinator, reported, "This was the first year we specifically asked our donors to direct their Giving Tuesday gifts in support of our John Hancock Boston Marathon team, and we encouraged each of our individual runners to begin their fundraising efforts on Giving Tuesday. The clarity of our ask generated a great response from our community."

YWCA Cambridge in Cambridge, which works to eliminate racism and empower women, made its Giving Tuesday debut this year, raising $745 and gaining three new monthly donors.

The Y sent a personal email to its board, staff, regular volunteers, donors, and other supporters on the morning of Giving Tuesday. The week before, it reached out via social media blast, including Facebook, to reach new people.

Whitney Mooney, administrative assistant at the Y, said the organization was pleased with its effort.

Mystic River Watershed Association in Arlington, which works to protect and restore the Mystic River, its tributaries, and watershed lands, raised $4,251 from 19 donors this year, its third Giving Tuesday appeal.

It followed last year's approach, sending two emails the day before and two on Giving Tuesday, focusing on paying for water quality monitoring sites.

Michelle Liebetreu, development director, who feels Giving Tuesday encourages smaller donors who might not normally give, said she wants to make greater use of storytelling next year through volunteer testimonials and videos, though it will take more effort.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County in Greenfield, which provides adult mentors to children living in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region of western Massachusetts, announced it received a $3,000 matching gift from Alber Hearing Services of Greenfield in advance of Giving Tuesday.

The Samfund, based in Boston, which provides financial and other assistance to young adult cancer survivors, raised nearly $25,000, including a $10,000 donation from MOR Wealth Management, during its fourth year participating in Giving Tuesday.

This year, The Samfund aimed to engage more donors, as opposed to reaching a dollar goal, and reported a 34% increase in the number of Giving Tuesday donors over last year.

Michele Scavongelli was the top Boston Marathon fundraiser on CrowdRise on Giving Tuesday, raising $26,465 for the Youth Advocacy Foundation in Boston.

John Hancock donated $1,000 to the fundraising efforts of those who placed second through tenth in their fundraising efforts on Giving Tuesday. They were:
  • ALS Association Massachusetts Chapter: Walter Jominy raised $13,425
  • Animal Rescue League of Boston: Herbert Huene raised $10,000
  • Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation: Ramon Eluchans raised $12,000
  • Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation: Chris Menard raised $11,000
  • Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation: Dawne Sweeney raised $10,000
  • Boston Medical Center: Lukas Gaffney raised $18,524
  • IMPACT Melanoma: Tracy Cockerham raised $12,575
  • McCourt Foundation: Bridget McLaughlin raised $9,446
  • South Shore Health System: Matt Rena raised $12,150
The Boston Foundation, the state's largest community foundation, gave $15,000 in $500 or $1,000 grants to 25 Massachusetts nonprofits that updated their profiles on The Giving Common in the weeks leading up to Giving Tuesday. The nonprofits, chosen at random, were:
  • Adolescent Consultation Services, Cambridge: $500
  • Boston Lyric Opera Company, Boston: $500
  • Boston Tax Help Coalition, Boston: $500
  • Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester: $500
  • Central Square Theater, Cambridge: $500
  • Cotting School, Lexington: $1,000
  • Families First Parenting Programs, Watertown: $500
  • FamilyAid Boston, Boston: $1,000
  • Girls Rock Campaign Boston, Boston: $500
  • Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, Boston: $500
  • Jeremiah Program, Boston: $500
  • MAB Community Services, Brookline: $1,000
  • Mass Audubon, Lincoln: $500
  • MassLEA, Boston: $500
  • Merrimack Valley Food Bank, Lowell: $500
  • More Than Words, Waltham: $500
  • Quest Adventures, Belmont: $500
  • Second Chances, Somerville: $500
  • South Boston Neighborhood House, Boston: $500
  • SpeakOUT, Boston: $500
  • Springwell, Waltham: $500
  • Stand for Children Leadership Center, Boston: $500
  • Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry, Boston: $500
  • Victory Programs, Boston: $1,000
  • Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association, Boston: $1,000
Giving Tuesday was founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation.